Out of My Comfort Zone

January has been a month of massive learning.

I set myself quite a long ‘to do’ list for the year, which including great chunks of writing, I planned to learn more about marketing. This means taking myself right out of my comfort zone. I consider myself a typical crab who is happy to hide inside her shell. As a published author who needs to spread the word, this isn’t good or effective.

From day one, I took the plunge and signed up for a 30 Day Social Media Challenge. The idea being to learn how to engage better with my followers on my Author Face Book Page.

I have found it to be much more of a learning curve than I expected. Although I knew the final challenge at the end would be my most difficult.

During the month I have learnt to engage with my audience in an open and at times deeply honest manner than I ever anticipated. I began sharing thoughts and moments of my life that I would not have shared in a public domain before. Part of the learning was to realise that people want to know the story behind the stories. I will endeavour to give more of that from now on.

One particular post that I found extremely difficult was where I had to ask people to describe me in one word. This could have been quite confronting I didn’t know what to expect, however the response was awesome. Surprisingly this post had the highest engagement and the most comments from all my posts of the month. I was deeply honoured and humbled that people took the time to leave lovely comments using wonderful descriptive words like : achiever, focused, talented, resilient, inspiring and genuine. For the full amazing response the link is here -

Interestingly another post that had a lot of attention was my one about the inspiration behind the writing of my chapter book, ‘Secrets Hidden Below.’ I really appreciate the interest this was given and will continue to write small bits of information about the book’s journey to eventual publication.

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As I have already mentioned the final task was without a doubt the hardest. It was spread over two posts to ease us into it. The first one took me so far out of my comfort zone I couldn’t believe I did it. Being asked to put myself on camera in a photo is hard enough, but to expose myself on a video, I didn’t think I could do that. I found it to be one of the most nerve wracking experiences, but I pushed myself to do it. I decided there was no point taking on a challenge if I wasn’t going to see it through to the end.

So what did I learn from this challenge? Other than discovering I could dig deeper and be more determined than I ever thought possible? I realised that like my Picture Book character ‘Frazzled Freya,’ it is ok to come out into the midday sun and shine. I can leave my comfort zone, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and give it a go.

Frazzled Freya had to learn to overcome her fears, as did I.

Frazzled Freya had to learn to overcome her fears, as did I.

I also learnt how to schedule posts. Before the challenge I had no idea how to do this. I was surprised how simple and easy it actually was. Before the challenge I didn’t even see the need for scheduling posts. I would add something to my page whenever the idea arose. It was random or ad hoc. Now I know the optimal time to post to my page to reach the highest number of my followers and the type of subject matter that will help produce the most engagement with likes and comments. I now know the type of posts you want to see from me and will endeavour to continue to post items that you, my readers, want to read or see. Even if this does include me producing more embarrassing videos.

Not quite so surprising my first video didn’t fair quite as well as I had hoped even though it did include a kangaroo hopping through the middle of it. Possibly had I mentioned that in my introduction, more people may have had a look. I believe it was partly due to the timing of the post. Part of this particular challenge was for us all to post at the same time of day, This time didn’t seem to suit my followers and the video was lost in the confusion of the ether. Not that I’m complaining, it wasn’t very good, although for my first attempt I did my nervous best. You can see it for yourself if you like. I am posting it again here to demonstrate how far out of my comfort zone this took me.

Overall, it has been a huge learning curve and I promise to continue along my journey this year and strive to give my followers more of the type of content they want. Watch this space, the videos can only improve, (they can’t get any worse!).

Thanks so much to all of you who followed along throughout the month of January. I hope you too, have learnt a little something of interest along the way. Thanks for engaging with all the likes, comments and shares. The more you engage, the more I know what sort of information you are looking for from me.

Thank you to those of you who are new to my Facebook author page. I am so happy you have decided to join me. This month I have almost reached the 400 followers mark. Let’s see if we can reach that magic number by the end of February.

A big huge thanks to Michelle Worthington of ‘Share Your Story’ for organising this awesome challenge. I will strive to grow in confidence. Thanks for all your support and the support of all the other authors who came along on this learning journey with me.

Now it’s your turn. What have you learnt this month? Have you challenged yourself in any way?

Please leave a comment in the section below. Let’s share our learning journey together.

If you enjoyed reading this post, you might also like to read my January post.

I'm Not Much of a Goal Setter, but Here I Go!

Happy New Year to all my readers. Welcome to a bright new year here at Sandy’s Story Chair. I hope you enjoy the stories I have for you again this year.

First up is a blog hop with a wonderful group of bloggers who I have been lucky to call virtual friends in recent years. We are starting the year with our blog posts of ‘What I hope to accomplish in 2019 even if I don’t win the lottery.’

The start of a new year is like a blank slate, and we don’t know what will be written upon it. Even if we don’t hold that winning lottery ticket, there are loads of things we can engrave upon it.

My writerly pals and I are sharing our hopes - on the writing road and in our family life - for 2019 in our #Gr8Blog hop: “What I Want to Accomplish in 2019 Even if I Don’t Win the Lottery.”

Please have a read, and then visit the other #Gr8Blogs linked at the end of this post for more smiles and inspiration.

I’ll admit I’m not much of a planner. a bit like my writing, I tend to go with the flow and see where the road takes me. It is somewhat difficult to make plans at the moment with Mr B working overseas in PNG. He tends to have meetings all over the place and his plans are changed at a moments notice. I try to fit my plans around him to be available to catch up where we can, whether that’s in Port Moresby, here at home in Canberra or any other city in Australia. Makes things difficult at times, I have to be ready to fly somewhere at short notice, but that’s life for now and have laptop will travel. At least I can write wherever I go.

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So what are my goals other than trying to see hubby as much as possible?

  1. Finish editing ‘A Lighthouse in Time.’ Book 2 of the Adamson Adventures and send it to my publisher asap. The manuscript assessment came back between Christmas and New Year. It was so helpful, I can’t wait to get stuck into my revisions. With all the wonderful family visitors this time of year, I haven’t had the time to sit down and take it all in.

  2. I have begun plotting Book 3. The next Adamson Adventure is going to be a lot of fun. I hope to start writing it soon too. The decision on title has to be made, I’m torn between two, perhaps you can help me choose. Which title do you think a child would find more enticing?

    a) Fossil Frenzy

    b) Panic on the Plateau

  3. I am looking forward to seeing two of my short stories published in this years Creative Kids Tales Anthology. I had set myself the goal of writing 3 stories for this, but the 3rd won’t be ready in time. See, I told you I am not good at goal setting. I have to be realistic and face the fact I don’t have time to finish it before the Feb 1 deadline. The first story is titled ‘Save it For a Rainy Day.’ It fits the enchanted theme. A small child finds an enchanted star and hides it away for a rainy day until she needs it to do something special for her family. The second story fits the ‘Things that go Bump in the Night’ theme. Two brothers can’t sleep for all ‘The Thumping’ that is going on under the house. They seek to find the answer to all the noise and discover a wonderful surprise.

  4. That 3rd story, I have set myself the goal of making it into a picture book instead. I would like to see it published one day. Maybe not this year, but one year. Daisy Dewdrop is a little rain fairy that can’t manage to bring rain to the drought stricken farm alone. She goes off in search of a few essential friends to help.

  5. My PB ‘Penelope the Playful Platypus’ is finished and ready to be revealed to the world. My goal for her is to have her published this year. Whether my publisher takes her on or whether I Indie publish, she will be published. Penelope has a fantastic imagination and longs to play with other creatures in her habitat, but sometimes making friends isn’t easy and she must learn to accept not to be too quick to judge.

  6. I intend to travel to Bali this year with the hopes of doing a book tour with ‘Secrets Hidden Below.’ It has been well received by a book store chain there who does author readings and signings in their Seminyak store. I would like to see if I can add to that a few more places as well, including the International school in Sanur.

  7. I intend to continue to improve my self confidence in this writerly life by attending more conferences. I have already committed to attending the second Creative Kids Tales Festival in Sydney in early April and will also commit to attending the bigger CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) conference being held here in Canberra in June.

  8. Meanwhile I will continue to attend as many SCBWI ACT and CBCA ACT branch functions as possible. Late last year I was approached to be a guest speaker this year for the Romancing the Stars CBCA evening later this year here in Canberra. I might even stretch myself out of my comfort zone and do it.

  9. As for marketing, I hope to do more school visits, more market stalls. and find more places to sell my books.

  10. As we say in ‘Scribbles,’ the online writing course by the amazing Jen Storer, I aim to keep doing ‘the verk!’ One day I might even finish all the course work. Is that even possible?

So I guess my word to set my goals for this year is ‘Focus.’ I need to stop procrastination and distractions and focus on all this amazing and exciting work ahead of me.

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Few! For someone who doesn’t like to set goals, there’s a lot going on here. I can’t believe how easily that all flowed out of me once I thought about it. Looks like a busy year ahead. Think perhaps I better add learning some time management strategies to that list.

What do you want to tick off your bucket list this year? Please share in the comment section.

For more inspiration, visit my #Gr8blogs pals below. (Ooooo, and we’ll let you know if one of us actually wins the lottery :) :)

If you blog and want to join us on this hop, just add the family-friendly link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love-:D

Thanks for stopping by!

Cat Michaels http://bit.ly/2smasqg_CatMichaels

Jacqui Letran https://rovingvegans.com/spread-a-trail-of-peace-world-tour/

Julie Gorges http://babyboomerbliss.net/baby-boomer-looks-forward-to-2019-with-exciting-book-announcement/

Shana Gorian https://authorshanagorian.com/2019/01/10/what-i-want-to-accomplish-in-2019-even-if-i-dont-win-the-lottery-blog-hop/

Rosie Russell - https://booksbyrose.com/index.php/2019/01/10/https-booksbyrose-com-index-php-kidlit-blog-by-rosie/

Carmela Dutra http://carmeladutra.com/blog-post/1354/

Rebecca Lyndsey https://rebeccalyndsey.blogspot.com/2019/01/happy-2019.html

Jim Milson → https://wp.me/p3RsfU-2kw

Corrina Holyoake bit.ly/2RlzhS2

Highlights and Lessons on the Bumpy Road to Writing in 2018.

What an amazing year 2018 has been. I’ve had some major milestone events during quite a roller coaster ride with some pretty big hills to climb and hurtle down at full speed. Has it been much the same for you or has 2018 brought you smooth sailing?

As the end of the year fast approaches, my writerly pals and I are remembering the happy moments as well as lessons we learned from challenges this past year in our blog hop: The Ups, Downs and In Betweens on the 2018 Writing Road. Check out our personal reveals, then visit the other #Gr8Blogs linked at the end of the post for more shared recollections and lessons learned along the way. We hope you'll be inspired to dive into your own special memories of 2018!

So what important life lesson did I learn this past year? You'll have to wait and see at the end of this blog. In the meantime, I'm fortunate that I had a lot of reasons to celebrate this past year. Here are four of them..

  1. The birth of my first grandson.

    Ok, I can hear you now, ‘that has nothing to do with your writing journey.’

    Sorry about that, but it was a major milestone event that I would be remiss to mention. Lachlan Edward Bennett arrived in this world on 5th January 2018, a pretty fabulous start to our New Year. In a way you could say his birth is part of my writing journey because he inspires me every day to keep writing and reading more picture books. I admit I am besotted. Love my little man.

My gorgeous first grandson on his day of birth, 5th January 2018.

My gorgeous first grandson on his day of birth, 5th January 2018.

End of November 2018, almost 11 months old, I can’t believe it!

End of November 2018, almost 11 months old, I can’t believe it!

2. Writing Workshops and Festivals.

This year was the year I was determined to stop hiding behind my computer screen and become more involved with fellow authors in the real world. I began in January with joining other members of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writing & Illustrating) ACT and beyond in a fabulous day out at a writing workshop presented by none other than my all time favourite picture book author, Jackie French. I had such an incredible fun day of learning and inspiration, I became more determined to continue along this writing road.

I then followed through by attending the first Creative Kids Tales Writer’s Festival in March. Again I met and mingled with more inspirational authors, gained an abundance of knowledge and took away with me a fabulous and worthwhile manuscript assessment. I continued to attend SCBWI ACT development evenings and even attended my first CBCA (Children’s Book Council of Australia) ‘Romancing the Stars’ evening. It’s been a year packed full of learning for writing and marketing.

Taking in all I can from the amazing Jackie French.

Taking in all I can from the amazing Jackie French.

A few CKT members at the festival.

A few CKT members at the festival.

3. My First Traditional Publishing Contract.

After many years of editing and revising and then having such a helpful manuscript assessment by the very talented children’s author, Sue Whiting, (who I shall be forever thankful to), I finally found the courage to submit my chapter book to trade publishers. Probably the biggest milestone this year, (after Lachie’s birth) was an offer of publication by Elephant Tree Publishing in June. I could hardly contain my excitement. To think that my writing had reached a level where I would receive such an offer blew me away, and the offer includes a series. An author can’t ask for a bigger dream to come true.

Secrets Hidden Below was launched at the beginning of Children’s Book Week in August at both a public launch in Paperchain Book store in Manuka and at a school launch at Curtin Primary. After these I have done more school visits and writing workshops here in Canberra, (Telopea Park School and Forrest Primary) and overseas in Papua New Guinea at the Ela Murray International School, I even did a book signing at Harry Hartog Woden., thanks James Reddin for your incredible support of local authors. The wonderful feedback I am receiving is that kids are loving my story. That fills my heart with joy, after all. kids reading for enjoyment and increasing their literacy skills is what being a children’s author is all about.

Secrets Hidden Below will take you on an intriguing mystical adventure around Bali. With a guardian snake, rotten-egg gas and a volcano spirit you don’t want to anger, it has plenty of mystery for every adventurer in the family. A perfect holiday read together.

You can purchase a copy of Secrets Hidden Below here via my website or at any bookstore throughout Australia. If they don’t have it in stock, just ask and they will order it for you. It is now even available in Bali!

The book launch of Secrets Hidden Below at Paperchain.

The book launch of Secrets Hidden Below at Paperchain.

4. Meeting Other Authors.
As part of this writerly life we as authors are destined to be alone, writing away in isolation. That is why it is so important to connect with other authors, whether that is virtual or in person. Like-minded people with knowledge and interests that are similar to your own that you can learn from. After getting to know members of SCBWI ACT I took their advice and joined The Duck Pond, an online writer’s group of amazing friendly children’s authors.. A few months later as my confidence grew paddling in the pond, and I splashed around, I waded in a little further and extended myself by also joining ‘Scribbles'.’ An online children’s writing course run by Jen Storer, Queen Duckie herself. It has been a fabulous experience, my learning continues and the support is immeasurable. Along with making all these lovely new author friends means I am able to help support them in person too. Book launches are a wonderful opportunity to get together and celebrate each others success.

A bunch of amazing authors celebrating the launch of Sue Whiting’s latest PB, all holding their own recent releases.

A bunch of amazing authors celebrating the launch of Sue Whiting’s latest PB, all holding their own recent releases.

So what have I learned from all this years highlights?

  1. Breaking out of your comfort zone and spreading your wings can lead to amazing opportunities.

  2. Developing new friendships builds support and encouragement for yourself and others.

  3. No matter how much you think you know, you never truly stop learning, there is always so much more to learn.

  4. I am braver than I think, I can do this. Each small step takes me further towards my life goal - More kids reading, writing and learning.

Thanks for stopping by! How was your year? What was your biggest accomplishment/event? Most powerful thing you learned the past 12 months? Please share in the comment section. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas season and wish everyone a happy, safe and wonderful 2019.

For more inspirational recollections and lessons learned, visit more #Gr8blogs below.

And if you blog and want to join us on this hop, just add the family-friendly link to your blog post in the comment section. We’ll visit and give you some blog love-:D

Rosie Russell - https://booksbyrose.com/index.php/kidlit-blog-by-rosie/

Julie Gorges: - http://babyboomerbliss.net/a-baby-boomers-ups-downs-and-in-betweens-in-2018/

Rebecca Lyndsey - https://rebeccalyndsey.blogspot.com/2018/12/rockin-around2018.html

Cat Michaels - http://bit.ly/2G17SQf_IndieAuthor2018 2018 closes on a high note after turmoil from rightsizing and writer’s block

Carmela Dutra - http://carmeladutra.com/blog-post/the-ups-downs-and-in-betweens-of-2018/

Auden Johnson https://www.audenjohnson.com/2018/12/blog-hop-2018-my-ups-downs-and-in.html

Corrina Holyoake https://corrinaholyoake.blogspot.com/2018/12/my-ups-downs-and-in-betweens-on-2018.html

Writing Workshops Are So Much Fun.

One of the best things about being a children’s author is that I get the chance to visit schools and meet lots of young readers. Whether that means reading and entertaining the younger ones with my emu puppet or engaging older readers in writing workshops. Either way, a school visit doesn’t have to be daunting, if well planned it can be exhilarating for the students and the presenter.

Recently, with the launch of my new chapter book, ‘Secrets Hidden Below,’ I have had the opportunity to visit two schools and work with students to encourage them with a few new writing strategies. During Literacy Week in September I had the fantastic opportunity to work with a very talented writing group of year 5 & 6 students from Forrest PS in Canberra, then at the end of October I had the incredible opportunity to work with all year levels from Prep right through to year 8 at the Ela Murray International School in Port Moresby, PNG.

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Here are my top 5 take-home points to remember from the experience.

1. Be well prepared. Being asked to present to kids ranging in age from 5 to 14 yrs means varying your workshop to suit their requirements. Even the Preps and year 1-2’s had a slightly different presentation than the other. While the majority of the lesson centred around my picture book, ‘Emma the Eager Emu,’ some fun facts (with pictures) to learn about emus and other Australian birds, I was able to ask higher level questions to the 1’s and 2’s when discussing the themes or lessons learned from the story and able to give them a worksheet that required higher order thinking than their Prep counterparts. It was the same with the writing workshops for the rest of the year levels. With each growing age group I could extend their activities.

2. Be adaptable. No matter how organised you think you are, something will always happen to make you have to change things. In some instances the scheduled time slot for a particular group was longer than I had anticipated, while others had been shortened. Remember, you are a visitor to the school and must fit into their timetable. When my time with the year 3’s and 4’s was extended from 90 min to 2 hours, it meant I could relax, slow the pace, allow more time for students to work on each writing task. It also gave me more time to read exerts from several of my books to use as examples of writing strategies instead of the originally planned one. I initially planned to demonstrate writing devices from ‘Gingerbread Aliens’ only, but given a longer time period I was able to include ‘Secrets Hidden Below’ as well. I loved seeing the students all so engaged and full of questions. On the other hand, because there was a large year 5 - 6 cohort, it was decided to split their original session in two. This meant instead of having 2 hours to work with all of them, I now had an hour each for two groups. To make this work I had to decide which parts of the workshop to skip so that they would get the most benefit out of me being there to help them. Some groups were bigger than I had thought, some were smaller. Again, if you are prepared to adapt, you can make this work. As the year 5-6 groups were so large, the teachers decided to move the lesson into the old library. Not so bad, except in 32 C degree heat with rising humidity and an air con system that seemed to be working overtime, it was a) extremely hot, I could feel the sweat running down my back and my face felt quite flushed no matter how much water I drank, and b) the noise of the air con was so loud I had difficulty hearing some of the students answers. I hope they coped better than I did.

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3. Year 7 & 8 aren’t so scary after all. I haven’t taught students of this age in a very long time. In fact, not since I graduated from teachers college over 30 years ago. So the prospect of working with them while exciting, was also a bit daunting. I needn’t have worried, they were a fantastic bunch of kids. I began the session by recognising the fact that my books are not targeted at their age level and presented them as a learning tool for examples of writing devices. The students were all very enthusiastic and eager to participate. We had some great discussions, excellent writing and a whole lot of laughs along the way.

4. Questions and answers can stretch your thinking. Sometimes the responses to questions you ask can be surprising. When demonstrating how to draw a mind map I discovered the enormous vocab students have, no matter their age. Talk about thinking on my feet, I suddenly became very aware of my spelling. To say the year 7 - 8’s tested me, is an understatement. I’m still not sure if I spelt telekinesis correctly. I’m sure they all spotted my mistake. I had some surprising questions asked of me too. Things I had never been asked before that really made me think on my feet. I enjoyed the challenge and hope I answered them all to their satisfaction. I can’t believe I did forget to mention the one thing I do everyday during my spare time, I guess because it has become more of a routine than a spare time activity. That is, walking my dog around the country hills where we live. I walk an average of 5 Km everyday with her. We look for kangaroos, echidnas, wombats, lizards and all sort of birds. You never know what I might find that may spark an idea for a story.

5. Relax and enjoy. It all goes too fast. Relax, breathe and take in every delightful moment. Watching students from all age groups write with such engagement and enthusiasm was awesome. Listening to the excitement in their voices as they shared their work with each other and myself felt wonderful. Observing students madly taking notes from every word I said and slide I presented was surprising yet made me feel quite honoured that they wanted to remember it all. It’s all over all too soon and before you know it, you find yourself alone back in front of your computer screen looking forward to the next school visit. I send my sincerest thank you to everyone at TEMIS, I enjoyed my two days there enormously. A big warm hug to you all.

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Now it’s your turn. Have you ever experienced the joy of a writer’s workshop or author visit? Whether from the author’s or student’s point of view, please leave a comment below.

Do you have any questions? I will do my best to answer.

Spring is in the air.

It’s that time of year again where we Canberrans begin to live in hope of a little warmth and sunshine. But don’t put away your winter woollies too quickly. Just when the weather feels like it has turned a corner and we can end our hibernation, the cold winds from the south return.

Late August and September did bring us some beautiful days, enough to start dreaming of Summer holidays, visiting the beach and long country walks.

Towards the end of August after a hectic bookish month, (see last months post), I escaped for a well earned rest to warmer skies. Perth already felt like Spring had sprung. I shared several glorious days with my eldest son and his wife. We explored the wonderful Swan Valley region with all its delicious offerings of wineries, chocolate factories and even a gin distillery.

I discovered like Canberra, Perth too, has a tulip festival. Their’s is set among the beautiful hills behind Perth in the Araluen Botanic Park. A hidden native garden I had no idea existed until this visit. We had planned to visit the gardens for the day anyway, when on arrival we found to our delight the tulip festival had begun. It was a perfect Spring day for meandering along garden paths under Eucalypt trees taking in the abundant colour.

Araluen Botanic Park, Perth
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Naturally, as with all my trips to Perth, we also visited Kings Park Botanical Gardens. Many of the native wildflowers were just beginning to bloom, but I did take a few lovely shots of some of the Kangaroo Paw.

 
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Springtime in Canberra means tulips, wattles and cherry blossoms. Not to mention the inevitable hay fever that comes along with all the pollen. On one of my morning walks around our valley I did stop to take a few pics of the wattle. Its bright yellow blossoms always bring sunshine to any day.

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Back home in Canberra our own Floriade has begun in all its amazing glory. I have had the opportunity to walk around the festival twice already this year. It is wonderful to see all the families out and about enjoying the weather and all that Floriade has to offer. Including the tulips and pansies, Floriade also entertains with an annual painted garden gnome competition, ferris wheel rides and art & craft, and local produce stalls. I found my picture books ‘Emma the Eager Emu’ and ‘Frazzled Freya’, both being sold among the stalls and enjoying the sunshine, (thanks so much to Monica of Wombat Cards & Gifts).

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We even managed our first trip to the beach this month. Although the wind was still a tad chilly, it was fabulous to soak in the sun and watch our grandson experience the sand and surf for the first time.

 
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I did do one school visit, for a writer’s workshop with year 5 & 6 students, (and a book signing too, at Harry Hartog in Woden.) but that is the topic of another blog post. Maybe next time.

With the Spring also came a bit of much needed rain. (We still need a lot more.) The paddocks have been looking very hard and dry and our water tanks have never been so low. On a positive note the rain brings the kangaroos out more to graze during the day. It is a chance to see all the cute new joeys as they begin to pop out of their mother’s pouches. We have also had deer grazing in our paddocks more frequently than ever before. I think they have discovered the green grass where our grey water waste flows. Deer are curious creatures and get up to rather a lot of mischief that includes eating the blossoms from my ornamental pear tree and pulling branches off my gum trees with their massive strong antlers.

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Spring is in the air and Summer is just around the corner. Time to start making plans for those lazy hazy days down the beach. That also includes a reading list for time spent in the shade of a tree, swinging in a hammock or lazing by a pool. Perhaps it’s time to plan your next Summer getaway? Don’t forget to include a book for the kids. ‘Secrets Hidden Below’ will take them to the beaches of Bali and beyond. Filled with adventure and surprises it just might inspire you and the kids to book that well deserved holiday.

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Have you ever been to a tulip festival?

What are your plans for the upcoming warmer months?

What is on your reading list?

A Bookish Month, Engaging Book Launches & School Visits.

August has been a busy month with lots happening for authors of children's books. With Book Week in the middle of the month, we have all been busy launching books and attending school functions. This years theme was 'Find Your Treasure.' So hang on to your pirate hat me matey,, lads and lassies, this is going to be one amazing adventure into the world of children's books. You may even want to make a cup of tea, this was a long month.

Children's Book Council of Australia

It all started back in July, 25th July to be precise. The ACT branch of CBCA held their Romancing The Stars meeting here in Canberra. Craig Cormick encouraged us with his stories about writing books in a series, those that are successful and those that are not quite so successful. Jacqueline de Rose-Ahem discussed ways to broaden your books reach internationally. Kerry Malone took us along on her journey to self-publication. Jack Heath brought us to tears with laughter as he looked back on his teenage years searching for books he wanted to read which became his reason for writing. Pauline Deeves discussed the abundance of research necessary when writing for the NLA (National Library of Australia and Maura Pierlot delved into her interest in dramatic play writing.. It was an inspirational evening, we all came away filled with information and motivation to continue our writing journey.

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May Gibbs Exhibition

Still in July, but at the end, 30th July, I attended the opening of the 100 year anniversary exhibition of the works of May Gibbs at Queanbeyan Library. There hasn't been a generation in Australia in the last 100 years that hasn't grown up reading about May Gibbs much loved and iconic characters Snugglepot and Cuddlepie and the rest of the Gumnut Babies. To my international readers, if you have never heard of these adorable stories I highly recommend you find yourself a copy and learn about these beautifully illustrated Australian bush characters.  May Gibbs was a magnificent and much loved author and illustrator. Author Tania McCartney had the fantastic opportunity to open the exhibition. She has spent years researching the life of May Gibbs to be able to have the honour of writing a children's picture book somewhat loosely based on her life story.

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Wyrd Book launch

Cate Whittle held her book launch for her new chapter book, Wyrd, to a great crowd at Harry Hartog, Woden on August 11. The audience was enthralled to listen to Cate read an enchanting chapter full of magical wishes. Followed by delicious cupcakes, colouring-in for the little ones and plenty of books to be signed. I couldn't wait to take my signed copy home and start reading. Cate didn't disappoint. The story was wonderful. Imagine the horror of two girls who can't stand each other suddenly discovering their parents are planning to marry. Add to that mistakenly becoming a reluctant witch and you have the potential for disaster. Cate Whittle handles the story with both gentle humour and sensitivity.

 
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SCBWI ACT Meeting

Only a couple of days later, on the 15th August SCBW! ACT held their next development meeting,  Putting Yourself in the Picture was an amazing evening of shared learning experiences. Award winning author/illustrator Caroline Magerl had us in stitches with her light-hearted journey through the publication world from before technology right up to present day with the launch of her latest beautiful picture book Maya and Cat. Emma Allen, Hannah Sommerville and Susan Hall spoke about the benefits of collaboration, while Maura Pierlot discussed the advantages of going away on a writer's retreat. We all came away from the evening enriched and inspired once again. I also came home with an armful of gorgeous irresistible picture books.

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CBCA Book of the Year Awards

These were held at the National Library of Australia on 17th August and mark the beginning of Children's Book Week. I didn't have the time to attend this year, maybe next year I will make it. Congratulations to all of this years winners. Check out the list of recipients on the CBCA website.

Secrets Hidden Below Book Launch

Saturday 18th August was my turn for the official book launch at Paerchain Bookstore in Manuka of Secrets Hidden Below. Thank you so much to everyone who braved the cold wet wintry afternoon to come out and join me. My dear friend and colleague Lynne Audsley kindly agreed to launch my book for me. A small part of her wonderful speech said,

'As a child I loved reading the Famous Five books. Books that took me to a world where children had amazing adventures involving smugglers and hidden treasure. Secrets Hidden Below is that for modern children. They can experience the thrill of reading a book they can't put down. In fact it would be a good contender for dragging children from 8 years, away from their electronic devices  as they get caught up in the mystery of Secrets Hidden Below.'

After Lynne's amazing speech that I appreciated very much and felt rather humbled by, I spoke about the inspiration behind the story before reading a chapter that had everyone hooked. We then went on a treasure hunt around Bali before to the delight of the kids I revealed the hidden treasure inside the treasure box. Yummy Volcano cupcakes were enjoyed by all as the signing of books began.

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Official School Launch

Monday 20th August took me to Curtin Primary school to launch Secrets Hidden Below with the year 5/6 Indonesian LOTE students. We were fortunate to have Pak Baskora from the Indonesian Embassy join us for the morning. A huge thank you to Ibu Karen Kennedy for organising the event. The kids really enjoyed the presentation and were enthusiastic to read more of the book. We held a writing competition beforehand whereby I selected the best story to win a free copy of the book. The students were asked to write a story using several Indonesian words. The winning entry was titled The Berapi Harimau, (Volcano/Fire Tiger). I selected this one as I felt it read like a Balinese legend. I could see that Madison has the potential to be a great writer as she grows and learns.

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Telopea Park School Visit

There was no rest, this was Book Week after all. Tuesday meant another fabulous school with more kids eager to see me, learn from me and read my new book. This time I visited year 3 students at Telopea Park School. On arrival I was surprised to find an awesome display the kids had made from their work about my earlier books. They were so excited as they entered the library, the chatter bubbled with hello's, waves and whispers. By the end of the session I was swamped with requests for my autograph. It was a beautiful moment to be able to share time with these gorgeous kids. The competition here, I asked them to come up with a title for an adventure story. The winner I selected was 'The Caves Beneath The White Cliff of Dover.' I could imagine all sorts of intriguing situations arising from that title.

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Forrest Primary School Visit

Thursday 23rd August I found myself back at Forrest Primary. I have very fond memories of my teaching years at this school, but today I was not teaching, nor presenting my book. This time I was supporting fellow author Skye Davidson and illustrator Agnes Rokiczky as they launched their gorgeous and mischievous picture book Archibald the Naughtiest Elf in the World Goes to the Zoo. It was a lovely afternoon, the Kinders and year Ones had a lot of fun.

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Of course there have been many children's authors launching books and presenting at schools this month. I couldn't get to all the launches, as much as I wanted to. I apologise to those I missed. I was there in spirit and hope to catch up with your amazing books soon.

My hectic schedule did not stop there. I flew to Perth for my eldest son's 30 birthday at the end of Book Week. Still can't believe he is that old! Where do the years go? Then flew to Port Moresby to attend the PNG Independence Day Ball with hubby, That takes us into September and there is still so much more to come. More school visits, more book signings. These are exciting times.

 
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If you missed the book launch of Secrets Hidden Below at Paperchain but would like a signed copy, you have a second chance. I will be signing books Saturday 15th September from 11:00 am at Harry Hartog Bookshop in Woden. Hope to see you there. For those who are not in Canberra, books can be purchased through Elephant Tree Publishing.

I will also be returning to Forrest Primary this Friday, 7th September to do a writing workshop with students from years 5/6. 

How about you? How was your August? Did you dress up for Book Week? Let me know in the comments below, add a photo too. I'd love to see those bookish costumes. 

 

#Gr8t Blogs Winter Road Trip

Check the tyre pressure. Plug in your GPS. Dust off your road maps. We’re off on a family-friendly road trip across Australia, North America and Great Britain in this #Gr8tblogs Winter Road Trip 2018.

My writerly friends and I are sharing insiders touring tips for your wintertime fun. I’m excited to guide you around my part of the world, Canberra, Australia. Then you can pop about the globe for more inspiring road trip ideas from other great bloggers, who are linked at the bottom of this page. 

5 Things I love about Canberra.

1.       Canberra, unlike other Australian Capital cities, actually has four seasons. Our temperature this time of year ranges from -6 Celsius to 12 C. So, if you come here June through August, be prepared to rug up. Even though our Summer can rise as high as 40 C, you can never quite put away your winter woollies, as you never know when a cold front will blow through. It has even snowed in October, our Spring! I love that with the change of seasons comes the change of colour in the trees. The streets are lined with deciduous and evergreen trees making a beautiful display all year round. I love that kids can shuffle through fallen leaves of amber in Autumn and blow wispy petals of white in Spring. In Autumn we have the Hot Air Balloon Festival that rise high above the lake early on chilly mornings, and Enlighten that illuminates the buildings around the Parliamentary circle in the evenings. Both are ideal for those walks around the lake, while in Spring we have Floriade. A festival of tulips that blossom in arranged splendour to the delight of children and parents alike. Not so much happens in the depths of winter. Canberrans tend to either hibernate her head to the snow. Living in the hills just south of Canberra sometimes we are lucky to have a snowfall ourselves. It is one of my favourite times of the year.

 

The photo of Enlighten on Parliament House and the Balloon Festival are courtesy of the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra  

The photo of Enlighten on Parliament House and the Balloon Festival are courtesy of the Crown Plaza Hotel Canberra  

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A Royalla Winter Wonderland, rare but beautiful when it does happen.

A Royalla Winter Wonderland, rare but beautiful when it does happen.

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2.       If you are a nature lover like me, there are plenty of walking and bike riding tracks in and around the city. You can do the bridge to bridge walk around Lake Burley-Griffin or settle for a shorter walk on the foreshore. If you are lucky you might even hear the bells of the Carillon on Aspen Island, chime. Weddings are often held on Aspen Island, including one of my sons and his wife. We watched in awe as she walked across the bridge while the bells rang out across the lake.

The National Carillon on Aspen Island in the middle of Lake Burley-Griffin, playing a little something you may recognise. 

A wonderful place for a winter walk on a sunny day.

A wonderful place for a winter walk on a sunny day.

The Carrillon is lit up this week for #Donatelife week

The Carrillon is lit up this week for #Donatelife week

1.       Nature reserves on the outskirts of the city provide ample opportunity for hiking and discovering native flora and fauna. Tidbinbilla and Namadgi National Parks are ideal spots for picnics, day walks and even a bit of sight-seeing historical sites like the remains of the old space tracking station at the end of Apollo Road. Honeysuckle Creek Tracking station played a major role in many of NASA’s space missions including the 1969 landing on the moon. If your kids are interested in space they will love the drive out to explore this place. There is a beautiful picnic area, walking tracks and plenty of kangaroos to see as an added attraction. After that you can also take them on a tour of Tidbinbilla Space Tracking Station where they still hold all the memorabilia from the space race days.

Remains of Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

Remains of Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station in Namadgi National Park.

Orroral Space Tracking Station also in Namadgi National Park, both perfect for a picnic, walk and kangaroo spotting.

Orroral Space Tracking Station also in Namadgi National Park, both perfect for a picnic, walk and kangaroo spotting.

4.       I love science and here in the middle of Canberra we have Questacon, the greatest hands-on science museum for kids I have ever seen. There is much to see and do in here. Plenty of experiments for the kids to take part in, ask questions, learn and explore. In fact, Canberra has so many places to immerse yourself in learning, there are too many choices. My favourites after Questacon, would have to be the National Gallery of Australia which features outstanding touring exhibitions such as the Cartier Exhibition, Turner, Monet, and many other brilliant Impressionists, just to name a few, and the National War memorial. Be prepared to spend hours wondering around the war memorial, it covers every possible conflict Australia has been involved in.

Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin.

Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre, on the shores of Lake Burley-Griffin.

Floriade, held every September, (Spring) in Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley-Griifin.

Floriade, held every September, (Spring) in Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley-Griifin.

5.       One of Canberra’s best attributes to me, is its location. We are only a couple of hours drive south to the Snowy Mountains, east to coastal beaches and north to Sydney. This means ample opportunity for country drives on long winding roads discovering old country towns, with quirky gift shops, creative art & craft shops, antique shops and amazing little cafes. One of our favourite little restaurants is only an hour drive east of Canberra towards the coast in the old majestic country town of Braidwood. TorPeas is quaint and quirky, all gluten free and so welcoming it is like eating in someone’s home. On reaching the coast, my favourite beach to take visitors from overseas is one that is possibly the best kept secret. Pebbly Beach is part of Murramarang National Park just a 20 minute drive north up the Princes Highway from Bateman’s Bay. It is a quiet little beach, very clean, plenty of soft white sand, waves gently roll in, I’ve never seen the waves big enough to surf there, so it is safe for kids to swim, but the best draw card of all, is the kangaroos you will find grazing on the grass. They are so used to people they will let you pat them. To pat a kangaroo in the wild is not common, most will hop away, they are usually wary of humans, these fellows appear quite tame. The kangaroos on our property will not let us anywhere near them. Naturally, I would still caution anyone, to move slowly not to frighten them and do not feed them.

TorPeas Restaurant in Braidwood.

TorPeas Restaurant in Braidwood.

Me patting a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, South Coast NSW

Me patting a kangaroo at Pebbly Beach, South Coast NSW

Thanks for your company. Hope you enjoyed your tour around Canberra and the surrounding region. What are favourite road trip must sees in your corner of the world? Please share in the comments section below. We would love to virtual visit you too! If you blog and want to hop with us add a live hyperlink to your family-friendly road trip in the comment section We'll swing by and give you some blog love!

As I am the only blogger in the Southern hemisphere, the other road trips are all Summer road trips. Click over to the next fun and inspirational road trip destination of your choice at any #Gr8tblogs below.

Other Blogs

Carmela Dutra - California

Julie Gorges - California

K. Lamb - California

Rebecca Lindsey - West Virginia

Cat Michaels - North Carolina

Rosie Russell  - Kansas City, Missouri

Rhonda Paglia - Pennsylvania

Patience and Persistence Does Make Dreams Come True

Emma the Eager Emu has patience and persistence, so does Frazzled Freya. In both these picture books my main characters learn the essential life lessons that to achieve anything in life you must practice, be patient and continue to try. 

One thing is certain, I have also learnt this lesson. In my blog post in May, I wrote about my chapter book set in Bali and how after almost twenty years of writing, rewriting, editing, learning and more editing and rewriting, I finally felt my baby was ready to go out into the world . First I submitted the first three chapters for a manuscript assessment by the incredibly helpful Sue Whiting at the Creative Kid Tales Festival in March. Following Sue's advice I returned home motivated and full of ideas for more rewrites and edits. When finally I felt the manuscript was complete, I found the courage to press the send button and begin the submission process to publishers.

I waited with baited breath. Just when I started to allow self doubt to take over again, I received a reply.

An offer of publication! You can imagine my excitement. To say I jumped for joy would be an understatement. I squealed with delight and ran around telling anyone who would listen. It's not everyday your dream comes true. 

That is not to say I have not been happy with self publishing so far, I have. I enjoy the road I have travelled  that helped  me reach this point. I have met many wonderful authors both indie and traditionally published and learnt so much from them all. It's just an amazing feeling to know that someone else believes in your work enough to take a risk on it and publish. I may still self publish my next picture book, it is so close to being ready, but for now I must concentrate on 'Secrets Hidden Below.'

The story has improved quite a lot over the years. It is almost unrecognisable from it's original draft. The setting and characters are the same, (almost). We have had a gender change. Instead of three brothers, the middle child is now a sister. It was a great suggestion by the publisher and I couldn't agree more. Not only does it widen the book's readership but as I edited I realised the character actually made sense as as a girl. I don't know why I hadn't seen it before? Sometimes we are a little too close to our work and it takes fresh eyes to see the obvious.

This week I have had to write the blurb for the back cover and look over several alternative front cover designs. The blurb reads as follows -

The Adamson family are set for a surfing holiday in Bali they’ll never forget.
Dad wants to surf all day and Mum wants to shop. Zac is eager to explore a sunken WW2 shipwreck. Luke is keen to cause mischief wherever he goes. Clare on the other hand, just wants to stay out of trouble.
But while building sandcastles on Kuta Beach, the kids unearth a surprising find that dramatically changes their holiday. Curiosity leads them on a dangerous path to an adventure where difficulties lurk around every corner.
Secrets Hidden Below takes the reader on an intriguing treasure hunt around an exotic tropical island that includes plenty of rotten-egg gas, a guardian snake and a volcano spirit you definitely, don’t want to anger.

I've written my bio for the publishers website and thanked them for their awesome words of encouragement. Part of their wonderful review reads 'our latest treasure is very much in the style of the classic mysteries we all loved, ( Famous Five, Secret Seven, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys). Canberra author Sandra Bennett has written Secrets Hidden Below, a rollicking adventure set in Bali for children aged 7-10. What child couldn't resist a sunken Ww2 Japanese shipwreck, a message in a bottle, a treasure map, a guardian snake, lots of rotten egg gas and a volcano spirit? ' I am so humbled that my writing has been mentioned in the same category as my childhood heroes. The new book will be released in August during book week. Thanks Elephant Tree Publishing for having faith in me. 

Next my story will go off to the type setter. I will do one last proof read and we will be ready to send the book to the printer.

School visits and book launches are next to plan.The chance to spend time reading, entertaining children  and helping them learn is my favourite part of writing children's books. Being able to share read aloud moments with them  and seeing their joy makes  my day. Exciting times ahead.

Are you are a teacher or parent in Canberra or Sydney who might like me to visit your school for a reading or writing workshop during book week or the weeks that follow? Please contact me here in the comments section below, my email gingerbreadaliens@gmail.com or through Elephant Tree Publishing. I would love to share my new chapter book with your kids.

Now for the big reveal! Here is the cover!

Secrets Hidden Below

Impressions of Papua New Guinea ... so far.

It took a lot longer than expected, but I'm finally here. Below are four of my impressions of living in Port Moresby as an expat as I see it at the beginning of this journey. Some things may change in the next three years, some things may not. Life goes on wherever we are and we make the most of what we are given.

1. No Hurry.

The first thing I have learnt about this nation is that nothing ever happens in a hurry. I think living in the tropics makes people more relaxed. With the constant heat there is no need to exert yourself. There is no sense of urgency to complete a task. I remember observing my maid in Thailand. Before then I had never seen anyone sweep a floor with such carefree abandon as she did. Khun Nong made sweeping a floor look so relaxing. The Papua New Guineans make it look just as easy, they do not put in the effort that we do. Time here is viewed in a similar manner to the Indonesians. It's all about 'rubber' time, flexible, easily bent and of little concern. It's a bit like learning to 'hurry up and wait.' You tend to do a lot of waiting here. It took us a lot longer for work visas to be approved than we anticipated. In fact, to sum up the life style here, the Spanish have a saying 'manyana' meaning tomorrow or some unspecified time in the future. Here in PNG the meaning of manyana is similar, but does not convey the same sense of urgency. Even the cars are driven around the city at a snail pace as if there is no where in particular anyone has to go. Consequently traffic jams are amazing, cars manage to find their way into gaps that no westerner would attempt, but when driven at a crawl, it is no problem. This photo was taken back home in Canberra at the PNG High Commission on one of our visits to complete our visa applications.

2. Safety.

I touched on this in my original post when we first visited PNG before signing the contract. The gap between the 'haves and have nots' is huge. Consequently crime is rife and staying safe requires vigilance. When driving through the traffic we have been told to always be aware of an escape route. Leave a gap where possible to allow to do a u-turn and drive away as fast as you can if a rascal comes racing towards the car. Keep the car doors locked at all times and always be aware of your surroundings. Never drive anywhere at night and certainly don't think about driving out of the city without a driver who is a PNG National. As for walking anywhere, that proves near impossible too. I have two choices, a) the treadmill in the gym in the apartment complex or b) the path around the inside of the gated community we are living in. As I am used to my walks around the valley I live in back home, I prefer to walk outside, therefore so far I have chosen option b. I have been told it is not wise to leave the gated community on my own at any time. I have lived in a guarded compound before, we did it for two years in Thailand. The only difference was that I felt safe to leave that one, catch a baht bus and head down to Beach Road in Pattaya to go shopping. That's not at all possible here. Life is going to be that much more restricted. However, I'm sure once I meet a few other expat wives, life will become more involved in the community. In the photo below you can see the car park to our apartment complex. There are two sets of security gates to drive through before you are in.

3. The People.

Even though there is an element that will choose to do harm for the chance to take a wallet, mobile phone or jewellery, the majority of people I have met have been nothing but friendly and courteous. Whether it's the guards at the gates, cleaners, gardeners or restaurant staff, they all say hello, and are keen to stop for a chat. We had a wonderful conversation with our waitress just last night at the Royal Papua New Guinea Yacht Club. Christine was a lovely quietly spoken young girl with pearls of wisdom beyond her age. When I commented that I probably shouldn't have had dessert as I couldn't really fit it in. Christine smiled and replied, 'dinner is for the stomach, dessert is for the heart.' I thought that was a beautiful comment. Although Pidgin English is their native language, they are all taught to speak English in school. It is with education that this nation will grow.

 

4. Tourism.

Would I recommend Port Moresby as a place to come visit? Probably not. It is pretty much a developing country on Australia's doorstep, desperately trying to elevate itself from poverty, but I fear that is still a long way off.  We did have a day out of the city on Sunday. A driver took us into the mountains to the Virartas National Park. The drive through the mountains was stunning. The road meandered through thick lush green tropical forest. The majority of the vegetation resembled the rainforests of far north Queensland. Our driver informed us that the road was built by the ANZACs during the war. He said WW1 , but I'm sure he meant WW2. If we had continued for another 35 minutes along the road, we would have reached the beginning of the Kokoda Track. One day I would like to walk part of the track, but it will be with security, or an expat tour, not just a driver. On our return down the mountain we visited the ANZAC War Memorial which was quite an emotional experience. Graves  of fallen soldiers from Australian and New Zealand Armed Forces were in lines too numerous to count. Many tombstones bared the name and age of young men too young to die, it broke my heart. Many still, were unnamed. Lost souls buried in another country for fighting for our freedom. There were PNG soldiers buried there too. We have much to thank them for. If you have loved ones buried here or who fought here and managed to survive the horror of Kokoda, then perhaps a journey here is worthwhile.  Port Moresby is only a 3.5 hour flight from Brisbane and if you appreciate war history, then this is a place worth considering.

Have you ever lived in a gated community? How did you find life there?

Would you want to visit Papua New Guinea?

Do you have any questions you would like answered? I will do my best to find out.

Have You Been to Bali?

Sun, sand, surf, you can find that on any beach right around our beautiful Australian coastline at any time of year. So why fly north to Bali?

Most Aussies fly to Bali for a sun drenched holiday where they can sit back , relax, be pampered, surf and party.

However, there is so much more to see and do around the island beyond the beach resorts.

As a family, we first experienced the exotic island over twenty years ago. This was when my idea for an adventure chapter book set in Bali was born.

Throughout the years since then, I  have nurtured its growth and believe it is now ready to fly the nest just like the rest of my children.

In recent days I have with hesitant fingers pressed the send button on my submission to two publishers. The harrowing wait begins.

Perhaps now is the time to revisit this beautiful tropical island, its people, culture and mystique.

Animism

Did you know the Balinese are a very spiritual people? Their religious belief system is steeped in history and mythology.

Animism is an ancient form of Hinduism that combines Hindu gods with primitive ancestor worshipping. It includes the battle between the forces of good and evil. 

Animism holds the belief that large stones, trees or other natural objects may house invisible spirits. Consequently, a small shrine is often built for them either nearby, or as a protective covering. Offerings of food and flowers are placed on the ground in bamboo trays to deter demons or evil spirits.

You may find an effigy of an animal god or a pair of mythical demon statues guarding many temple entrances. These too, are places to present offerings.

There are many places to visit around Bali where you will find evidence of this spiritual belief. Below are a few such places, that the Bradberrie Brothers discover as they follow their adventure trail around the island in their quest to find 'secrets hidden below'.

 

Ubud

In my chapter book one of the places the boys are amazed by, is the drive through the village of Ubud. Here they encounter streets along the roads that wind through lush green tiered rice fields lined with spirit poles, presenting offerings to appease evil spirits.

Ubud is only about an hour drive north inland from the main tourist beaches around Kuta, yet it is where you encounter a hub of the traditional Balinese lifestyle. It is known for it's culture, arts, crafts and market stalls set among the cooler climate of the rice paddy backdrop. Ubud is also where you will find health and yoga retreats, as it is a place of calmness and well-being.

Tanah Lot Temple

Not far up the coast from Kuta, stands this magnificent and iconic temple. Sat on a rock surrounded by water, it is accessible at low tide.

One of many along the coastline, including Uluwatu, this temple was built centuries ago in order to worship the gods of the sea.

Nowadays, tourists flock to this destination for photo opportunities, particularly at sunset. A note of caution at these Temples, not only are they guarded by spirits, (good or evil) but monkeys too, all too willing to grab your food, bag or jewellery.

Along with the mystique of the culture, poisonous sea snakes are believed to guard the temple from both intruders and evil spirits.

I wind this into my story as the boys encounter something lurking in the shadows of the caves in and around Tanah Lot Temple.

Mt Batur

There truly is something for everyone on this island. If you are not into sun, sand and surf, history and culture, or arts and crafts, there are volcanoes.

Mt Batur is an active 700 m tall volcano to the north of the island. It is formed between two craters. At its base in one of the craters is Lake Batur.

The volcano rises above several small villages nestled among rice fields within the craters and can be quite a formidable sight  It is well worth the day drive to watch the volcano quietly smoulder among the clouds.

Within the pages of my book a thirst for adventure, temptation and intrigue lead our mischievous boys on a dangerous path to this volcano.

Amed Beach

Like most Aussie kids, the brothers in my story have grown up loving water sports. Whether it's at the beach learning to surf or in a backyard pool, we all learn to swim. Water is in our nature and swimming is a big part of our culture. So when visiting Bali we are all drawn to the beaches. Brian, my main character, has discovered the perfect snorkelling location. It is a small coral reef made from the remnants of a sunken World War 2 Japanese ship wreck. The coral and fish that are to be found there are renowned to be some of the most spectacular in the world.  Found in the middle of the 'Coral Triangle' just off the coast of Amed beach, it is in shallow enough water to allow snorkelers and divers a chance to see her many treasures. The boys are however, in search of another treasure. Does Brian ever manage to have his day snorkelling? Maybe one day, you will be able to read my story to find out.

 

Have you ever visited Bali? Basked in her sun and culture?

Have you ventured out of the beach resorts to discover her natural wonders?

The Bradberrie Brothers discover much more than they bargain for in "Secrets Hidden Below.'